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A home theater in a box

The current pace of technological development has made nothing so outmoded as satisfaction. How can you be entirely complacent with your 1-year-old laptop when your friend is using a stylus to write in her Gateway Convertible Notebook, the screen of which swivels from electronic notepad to desktop with a twist of the wrist? It is the age of eLust. I can hardly look my old iPod Mini in the eye since I held its successor, the wafer-thin, full-color Nano in my twitchy palm. I’m not sure how hardcore technophiles sleep at night.

If you saw Home Electronics Journal’s list of 2005 “can’t miss” holiday gifts — the least expensive of which was $279, assuming you already had a Sirius Satellite Radio subscription — you probably know what I’m talking about. In addition to the Gateway Convertible and the Sirius Satellite Radio/MP3 player, the list included the Archos AV400 100-Gig combination MP3 player and video recorder that’s described as “part TiVo, part iPod.” How many times can you put off major car repairs in order to buy the latest, greatest gadget? (In our household: Three.) And then you’re just playing catch-up.

Take the flat-screen television, for instance. Chances are, if you don’t own one you’ve admired one in a home-electronics department or a friend’s living room. Perhaps you’ve been saving to buy one, planning which furniture will have to go to make space for it. Well, forget it. I have seen the future, and the future is the Optoma MovieTime DV10 home projector (at least until they start embedding screens in our walls), which understandably ranked high on HEJ’s holiday shopping list. Reminiscent of R2-D2’s domed white head in size and appearance, the MovieTime is capable of projecting a 48-inch image on any white wall from as little as 5 feet away (the company claims the screen can be as large as 300 inches if you have got the room). It comes with a built-in DVD player, but with composite video, S-video, and VGA inputs, you can connect almost any of your home-entertainment devices, from that creaky old VHS player to the computer to Xbox, Nintendo GameCube, and the Playstation 2. Last week, we attached the cable box and watched The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart bigger than life. (Was he funnier? Yes, he was.) After watching our sons play Star Wars Battlefront II on it, I spent 30 minutes at EB Games debating a Liberty City purchase for the adults.

But where the MovieTime takes the cake is in the swoon-inducing “home theater” experience. Optoma’s 7-pound device is basically plug-and-play and comes with an all-in-one carrying case — making it a perfect tax-write-off candidate when you use it for PowerPoint presentations at the office. It doesn’t provide a true HD-quality image, but at 70 inches, the size we projected at home, the images look as good as they do in the theater. You also can add surround-sound speakers that will improve dramatically on the MovieTime’s built-in 5-watt set and buy a movie screen, but we love the ease of just projecting on the wall.

Unfortunately, even if you’re a savvy shopper, the Optoma MovieTime and speakers will set you back about $1,500. But if you’re looking for a rationalization — any rationalization at all — how about state boosterism? The MovieTime projector uses Digital Light Processing technology from Texas Instruments Inc. Go Texan!

Elaine Wolff

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September 23, 2020

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